Great works take time to produce. And Heiko Bleher's Discus book is a case in point, says Mary Bailey.
Originally Bleher’s Discus was envisaged as a single-volume monograph, but by mid 2005 it was evident that author Heiko Bleher’s vast knowledge of Discus wouldn’t fit into one book.
And so it was decided to split it into two volumes, the first of which was published a few months later and met with considerable acclaim.
Naturally Discus enthusiasts have been wondering ever since when Volume II would eventually appear, and I am happy to report that the time has now come, with the book available from April 15, 2011.
As readers will quickly realise, once again the material has "topsied", in part because the response was so great to Heiko’s request for breeders worldwide to provide information on their discus and breeding methods.
So there will now be a third volume to complete this definitive work. It is hoped, however, that Volume III will appear by the end of the year as much of it has already been written.
Volume II contains two long chapters, which follow on numerically from where Volume I ended, as does the pagination.
Chapter 6 covers the history of discus breeding worldwide, from its first beginnings in the mid 20th century right up to the end of 2010. It falls into three sections: the early pioneers, the work of Dr Eduard Schmidt-Focke (to whom the book is dedicated posthumously), and recent breeders from all over the world. The latter are dealt with continent by continent and country by country, and more than 700 breeders from 50 countries are included, with details of their breeding premises, set-ups, methods, and secrets.
Most of this information is previously unpublished and based on Heiko’s visits to their premises and/or information they have provided on request. The chapter also reveals the origins of many of the cultivated forms available in the discus hobby today.
The chapter ends with the author’s own easy-to-understand overview of the ideal methods for breeding both wild-caught discus and cultivated forms, based on his extensive personal knowledge accumulated over many years.
Chapter 7 catalogues all the Discus variants cultivated worldwide, including the latest cultivated forms and new wild-caught variants discovered since the publication of Volume I.
It also provides details of who is breeding them and where. The author points out that the sheer numbers of different forms now in existence make their classification and judging very difficult, and this chapter is followed by an “extra” section not envisaged in the originally planned contents of the monograph, preliminary details of a new system of classification that has recently been hammered out by the author and a number of other expert judges from several countries.
There will be more on this in Volume III, part of which will deal with showing Discus.
The book concludes with two more “extras”, in the form of updates on Discus taxonomy and distribution.
The usual phrase “lavishly illustrated” doesn’t even begin to do justice to the number and quality of the colour photos included in this book. It is a worthy sequel to Volume I, and a must-have reference for any Discus enthusiast, especially those looking for expert information on breeding, or anyone confused at the vast number of variants available nowadays.
The book is available from Heiko Bleher’s website and costs €89.00 (about £78) per copy. There are currently editions in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish, with more languages to follow in due course.
Volume I is also still available from the site.